World Englishes

What are World Englishes?

World Englishes is a term referring to localized or indigenized varieties of English spoken throughout the world by people of diverse cultural backgrounds in a wide range of sociolinguistic contexts.

World Englishes and the OED

With the rise of English as the world’s lingua franca, it has become even more essential for dictionaries to recognize and document words and phrases that reflect the identities and experiences of a multi-ethnic and multicultural Anglophone population. These pages serve as a hub for the content and resources related to World Englishes on the OED site, and provide information on the contributions made by the dictionary’s extensive network of consultants and partner institutions across the globe. There is also the opportunity to suggest a World English term for inclusion in the OED.

Editors of the current edition of the OED now have access to a wealth of evidence for varieties other than standard varieties of English. The Internet enables us to instantly consult databases, newspapers, journals, and books from across the globe, as well as a number of World English dictionaries and grammars. We are also aided by contributions from members of the public, and specialist advice from an international network of consultants. Various forms of social media have also given us a view into current, informal, idiosyncratic uses of words from many different places, and even allow us to reach out to people who speak regional Englishes to ask them about the words that they use.

Read this OED blog post to learn more about the history of the OED’s coverage of world varieties of English from the 1884 first fascicle to the current edition, and for more information on the dictionary’s current policies and procedures with regard to variation in English.

The OED has always included words from across the English-speaking world. What’s changed – drastically – since the first edition is the size and breadth of the English-speaking population. The British Council estimates 1.75 billion people worldwide can speak English to what it calls ‘some useful degree’.

For the past few years we have been undertaking a series of projects to improve our coverage of words and senses from those parts of the world in which English is used most prolifically and distinctively. In each of these projects we have formed partnerships with external experts from or in the region. Increasingly, terms arising in these varieties will spread internationally. 

Michael Proffitt, Chief Editor of the OED

World Englishes recorded in the OED

We will be adding more resources pages for each variety of English in the coming months. Where a ‘VIEW RESOURCES’ link appears, click to view a list of free-to-view words and resources relevant to your variety of English.

Variety of English   Pronunciation Resources
African American English     COMING SOON
Australian English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Bahamian English     COMING SOON
Barbadian English     COMING SOON
Bermudian English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Canadian English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Caribbean English includes Bahamian English, Barbadian English, Guyanese English, Jamaican English, Trinidadian English, and varieties spoken in other Caribbean islands model | key VIEW RESOURCES
East African English includes Kenyan English, Tanzanian English, and Ugandan English model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Ghanaian English     COMING SOON
Guyanese English     COMING SOON
Hong Kong English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Indian English     VIEW RESOURCES
Irish English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Jamaican English     COMING SOON
Kenyan English     VIEW RESOURCES
Malaysian English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Manx English   model | key COMING SOON
New Zealand English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Nigerian English     VIEW RESOURCES
North American English includes Canadian English and US English   COMING SOON
Philippine English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
Scottish English   model | key COMING SOON
Singapore English   model | key COMING SOON
South African English   model | key VIEW RESOURCES
South Asian English includes Bangladeshi English, Indian English, Pakistani English, and Sri Lankan English   COMING SOON
Southeast Asian English     COMING SOON
Tanzanian English     VIEW RESOURCES
Trinidadian English     COMING SOON
Ugandan English     VIEW RESOURCES
Welsh English   model | key COMING SOON
West African English includes Nigerian English and Ghanaian English model | key COMING SOON
Words of Chinese origin     COMING SOON
Words of Japanese origin     VIEW RESOURCES
Words of Korean origin     VIEW RESOURCES

World Englishes in focus

Our June 2022 update contained words from East African English. View the updates below:

OED editors are currently revising and expanding the OED‘s coverage of African American English, Australian English, and New Zealand English.

Our pronunciation team are also developing a model for the transcription of Indian English, which we plan to publish in 2022.

Submission of and access to World English words

Use the submissions form below to suggest a World English term for inclusion in the OED:

World Englishes

  • E.g. Philippine English, Hong Kong English, Ugandan English
  • e.g. bammy, skinship, bunny hug
  • e.g. an informal social gathering, a street vendor
  • If you would like to, you can also add a pronunciation transcription here, or there is the option to add a sound file below.
  • Add a file to demonstrate how this word is pronounced.
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: mp4, mp4, wav, aac, flac.

If you would like to explore the varieties of English included in the OED further but do not have personal or institutional access to the OED, get in touch to request a temporary access code.

World English editors and consultants

Visit the OED blog or watch the video below for insights into our work drafting dictionary entries for the many varieties of English spoken all around the world, and how social media is helping our editors to access and document shifts in language that would once have largely been out of reach.

The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in the appropriate regions to ensure that our entries for World Englishes draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday realities and distinctive identities of different English-speaking communities.

World English pronunciations

You can find information on pronunciation of different varieties of English on the OED‘s pronunciation pages. The below blog article may also be of interest:

World English blog articles

Yet there is a group of people who do not view code-switching in such a negative light, and these people are linguists. Indeed, it is a linguist whom the OED records as having written the earliest known use of the term code-switching in print—Lucy Shepard Freeland, who used it in her 1951 monograph on the language of the Sierra Miwok people of California. Linguists needed to have a name for this linguistic phenomenon that can reveal so much about the inner workings of human language and cognition.

Excerpt taken from’Switching gears: revising code-switching, n.’

World English teaching resources

We have produced a teaching activity pack with three lessons which teachers can use to introduce World Englishes in the English language classroom with the help of the OED. This freely downloadable resource was developed by the OED in collaboration with ELT specialist and teacher trainer Ms Sophia Khan of the British Council in Singapore and linguist and lecturer Dr Hyejeong Ahn of Nanyang Technological University:

For additional teaching resources, please visit our teaching resources page.

World English publications

World English videos

Excerpts from Language prejudice and the documentation of minoritized varieties of English – virtual talk and panel discussion.

The opinions and other information hereby presented do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.

Learn more about why the OED documents World Englishes

World English webinars and events

Information about any upcoming events and webinars, as well as recording from past events, will be posted on our webinar and events page. Recent events related to World Englishes are available to view below.

Oxford World English Symposium 2022

The sessions from the Oxford World English Symposium 2022 are now available for viewing:

Language prejudice and the documentation of minoritized varieties of English

Many still consider some varieties of English to be inferior to others. Such language prejudice has a clear social and economic impact on certain language communities, whose members are frequently marginalized because of their accents or their choice of words.

To mark the launch of the OED’s Varieties of English page, Dr Danica Salazar, World English Editor, and Dr Catherine Sangster, OED Executive Editor, were joined by a panel of guest speakers to discuss:

  • Attitudes towards language variation
  • Why are particular varieties valued over others? ​
  • How does the perception of a language variety impact communication?
  • Why is it important to document minoritized varieties of English?
  • Code switching
  • Dialect parody

Our guest panel was composed by:

  • Dr Jeannette Allsopp, retired Senior Research Fellow in Lexicography and founder and former Director of the Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography at the University of the West Indies
  • Dr Rosemary Hall, Research Assistant, The Dialect and Heritage Project, University of Leeds
  • Dr Kingsley Ugwuanyi, English Lecturer and Researcher, University of Nigeria
  • Kelly Elizabeth Wright, PhD Candidate in Experimental Sociolinguistics, University of Michigan

The questions which could not be addressed during the webinar session were addressed by the panelists and their answers are available to view here.

Mama put in the OED: World Englishes and the Oxford English Dictionary

Dr Danica Salazar, OED World English Editor, and Mr Kingsley Ugwuanyi, one of OUP’s valued Nigerian English consultants, discussed how different varieties of World English are being included in the OED, the processes around this, and how researchers can get involved.

Watch the webinar below, and read the accompanying blog piece by Dr Danica Salazar on the OED blog: Circuit breakers, PPEs, and Veronica buckets: World Englishes and Covid-19.

Covid-19 and World Englishes

Major health crises and the OED: language evolution and challenges in health communication

Language has had to adapt rapidly and repeatedly this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic – but what are the challenges faced when new medical terminology needs to be used within many varieties of English, and also with non-English speakers?

Join Dr Danica Salazar, OED World English Editor, and Richard Karl Deang, PhD candidate at the University of Virginia, for an interactive online presentation that will combine insights from medical anthropology and lexicography to address the following questions:

  • New terms in current use in different parts of the world, and what social realities these words reveal
  • Lessons learnt from other global health crises, and how can we use these to ensure more effective health communication?
  • What considerations need to be made in crafting accurate and locally appropriate translations of Covid-19 terminology from English?

Watch the recording of this presentation here:

The questions that we were not able to address during the live presentation were passed on to the panellists and their answers are available to view here.

Covid-19 Multilingual Project

Oxford Languages, of which the OED is part, recognizes the importance of establishing a standard vocabulary around Covid-19 so that information can be communicated with clarity and precision. Oxford Languages are making these translations freely available in order to support local efforts to provide critical health advice to various communities around the world. The translations may also be of interest to those wishing to study how different languages are evolving as a result of the pandemic.

Research partnerships

The Ontario Dialects Project

The way people may talk in small Ontario communities would slip through the cracks unless documented in a project like the ODP. The project offers the OED unique insight into the language of one of the world’s largest English-speaking nations.

Professor Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto, who heads the Ontario Dialects Project

The Ontario Dialects Project (ODP) has been documenting the dialects of Ontario, Canada, since 2002. The ODP’s research has identified many words of characteristic Canadian usage, such as May two-four and soaker, which have now been included in the OED.

The Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography

[Caribbean English] is an extremely important variety… [The OED] helps to export it across the world and show that it has value and is a viable form of English and a colourful variety of English.

Dr Jeannette Allsopp, OED Caribbean English consultant

The Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography is a research centre dedicated to producing and promoting dictionaries of Caribbean languages. Its honoured ancestor, Prof Richard Allsopp, the late Chief Editor of the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, was a consultant of long standing for the OED. The Centre’s founder, Dr Jeannette Allsopp, continues to be the OED‘s consultant on Caribbean English. She has worked closely with OED editors on a recent project to revise and expand the dictionary’s coverage of words used by English speakers in the Caribbean, such as tabanca and like peas.


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